As a postnatal yoga teacher, I saw countless new parents coming to class with tight necks, shoulders and chests from holding, rocking, carrying and feeding their new babies. I looked at the pain those parents were experiencing and vowed that I wouldn’t be that new parent. I would make time for myself, I would stretch, I would take care of myself.
Fast forward to 8 weeks postpartum, as I was getting back into some of my regular activity and the help of my partner and my mom was gone during the days. I was tight, I was sore and I WAS that new parent I swore I would never be. I had let go of my self-care routines, focused solely on baby, and was now paying the price in body pain. And was this really a bad thing in hindsight? Not necessarily, but what I came to realize is that I was keeping myself from releasing some of this pain because I had certain expectations.
As a yoga teacher and practitioner, I felt like I should be going to class or getting on mat to be stretching. If couldn’t devote at least half an hour of my time it didn’t’ feel worth it. Resting felt more important. Were these things true? No.
What I found is I had to start seeing my time for self-care in a new way. I had to start reframing healthful things I was doing for myself. Perhaps I couldn’t get out for a run that day, but by golly I would strap my daughter to me and take a walk around the block even if it was only for 15 minutes. Maybe I didn’t have the time or the energy to make the healthy green smoothie, but I’d make sure I drank at least 4 bottles of water that day. Healthful self-care had a new definition and so did my yoga practice.
Here are some things that helped me pick my yoga practice back up again postpartum:
Your yoga mat is wherever you are
As my little one got older, she spent a lot of time on the floor and so did I. As she was learning to roll, scoot and move, I was on the floor with her. As I lay there encouraging her and challenging her I could squeeze in a few clamshells to strengthen my hips or do a few modified pushups giving her a kiss each time I came down. It wasn’t regimented and it wasn’t regular but it helped me start making space for movement and strength in my body.
Your yoga practice will look very different
Having spent so many years going to classes it was hard for me to feel that anything less than at least an hour of time was a devoted practice. Now, its one pose. That’s it. If I can do one pose each day, I’ve done my practice. When you’re tired and exhausted it’s a lot easier to convince yourself to do thread the needle for 2 minutes on each side than it is to drag out yourself out of the house to get to a yoga class. One pose a day is doable, anything more than that can feel overwhelming. Pick one pose and start there. You’ll find that over time you may be able to add a few more.
Use what’s around you
To the point that your yoga mat is wherever you are, use what you have where you are. Standing by a wall? Use it to do some chest openers. Nearby a couch? Use it to do some triceps dips. Have a flight of stairs in your house? Walk up and down them 10 times. These simple activities can help loosen tight muscles, start building strength and get your heart beating and your blood flowing. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Simple means you’ll keep doing it.
Be gentle with yourself
Its easy to buy into the “your body will bounce back” hype you hear in the media, but you know what, its not true. Most bodies do not bounce back. Most bodies are simply trying to get by day by day, hour by hour with minimal sleep, less than perfect nutrition and stress and worry as part of our day to day. Be gentle with yourself. Keep it simple and if you have one day where you don’t do something, there’s always tomorrow. And if not then, there’s always the next day. You’ve got this mama.
Looking for inspiration in getting started? So many of our postnatal yoga videos are 3-5 minutes. That's it! That's all you need!
Wisdom and insight with a dash of humor to help guide you on your journey through motherhood.